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Rockbridge Alumni in Collegiate Sports
Caleb Kaiss (Class of 2016)
Caleb Kaiss plays soccer for Houghton College. Read his article "Getting Up and Carrying On" on page 6 of The Rockbridge Reporter.
Hannah Ball (Class of 2016)
Hannah Ball runs cross country for Covenant College: "The most meaningful part of my sports experience at Rockbridge was the ability to learn from a coach and be able to push myself through the challenging course that is at Belvoir. That experience has been so valuable as mental toughness and listening to my coach has led me to several PRs.
"My most vivid memory of playing sports at Rockbridge is one during a basketball game. I remember that Olivia McCarrick, our team captain, had just gotten injured. We were facing a very difficult team, and we were only ahead by 5 points with about 2 minutes left, which can be forever in basketball. I remember us huddling as a team and saying we have to do this for Olivia. It was such a team bonding moment, and we won by just one point.
"Sports at Rockbridge taught me to listen to and encourage your teammates no matter what happens. Encouragement is such an important part of cross country. Without it, workouts can be so hard and grueling. Being there and listening to your teammates is so important, and that is what I have taken from Rockbridge sports."
John Brennan (Class of 2010)
John played club soccer at the University of Maryland College Park: "Participating in athletic competition in the company of believers, both teammates and coaches, was both encouraging and beneficial. We were able to build relationships and keep God at the forefront of everything that we did, win or lose. Mentorship was a critical aspect of the team. Freshman and sophomores tended to look up to the juniors and seniors, who, in turn, had a responsibility to set a proper example on how to play, how to interact, and how to be athletes of character.
"For as long as I could remember, we had never beaten Redeemer Christian School in soccer. It was even more personal for the team because our coach, Mr. Feeney, had a brother who was the head coach of Redeemer. Whether at home or away, in all of Rockbridge's athletic history, we had never beaten them. However, my senior year, we played them at home for one of our last games. Somehow we were able to capture lightning in a bottle, and in a hard fought 3-2 grind, we pulled out the win. The fact that we had beaten our undefeated rival, plus the emotion of getting the win in our senior year, is the reason why this is my most memorable Rockbridge sports moment.
"Learning to be humble and put the team first was an important lesson I took with me when I played club soccer at University of Maryland. At college, no matter at what level you play, you will likely not be the best player on the team. Accepting your role, even if it's less prominent than what you are used to or think you deserve, is critical for team cohesion and success. At Rockbridge, we learned to have a servant heart, put others first, and play for God's glory, even if it's a lesser role."
Alex Buchholz (Class of 2015)
Alex runs cross country for Loyola University: "The most meaningful part of playing sports at Rockbridge was definitely building close relationships with my teammates. I had close ties and the guys on my team became my best friends. It was enjoyable cheering them on and pulling them during runs and races. I'll never forget the ties that we formed.
"There was this one race at Mount Airy. The first year we ran the race we got destroyed. Our fastest runner was smoked by their slowest runner, and we never had a chance. Over the years I kept improving, and by senior year, I won the race. In retrospect, the race wasn't that important, but it was a great barometer for measuring my progress and development as a runner.
"Life outside of Rockbridge is obviously very different than life within it. Being with a team that does not have Christ at the center was a transition that I had to make, but I took the lessons of running with God in the center with me. At Rockbridge, there were tons of decisions that I did agree with but I trucked along, looking at the bigger picture. Loyola is no different."
Ashley Diekemper (Class of 2017)
Ashley dives for Seton Hall University: "Being on a team in college is very different than being on one at Rockbridge. Since Rockbridge is so small, your teammates are the same people you see at school every day in the hallway and in your classes. So there was a big sense of unity on the team at Rockbridge that’s really special.
"I remember at my first cross country race, I was a freshman, and the varsity girls race was one of the last races of the meet. So we were watching all of these other races before ours, and people were crossing the finish line throwing up and stumbling around. I was kind of scared, and I didn’t really know what I’d gotten myself into. But I’m really glad I stuck with running for all four years. I wouldn’t even say that I like running in and of itself, but it was a lot of fun and a great experience being on that team.
"Being on a team in college presents new challenges and a very different atmosphere, and it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure. But when I ran cross country at Rockbridge, we always would huddle up before races to pump each other up but also calm each other’s nerves at the same time. I think that taught me a lot about how important it is to keep things in perspective and have the right mindset going into competitions."
Emi England (Class of 2017)
Emi plays women's rugby at Grove City College: The most meaningful part of playing sports at Rockbridge was definitely the community built around them. When I go back to visit, I make sure to see the people I played with in soccer and basketball because we always really bonded during the season.
The most memorable game for me was definitely the game where I dislocated my thumb. We all played really well and it was a pretty climactic point in the season for the team and for me.
Who I play for was always a really important aspect of the game at Rockbridge and it still matters at Grove City. Even though the coaches and the sport changed, I still do it all for God and it's really cool to see that even though now I'm tackling other players and there's a lot more contact, I don't play any differently than I did in high school because how I approach the game is entirely the same: I just gotta get on the pitch and give it my all and at the end of the day as long as I give it my best and do it for God, the results don't matter because He gave me the abilities to do everything I did while I was out there.
Ruth Wilmot (Class of 2017)
Ruth is on the riding team at the University of Mary Washington: I would say the most meaningful part of playing sports at Rockbridge was the coaches. They always pushed me to do my best on and off the field. Often the coaches were also my teachers in other subjects, which was really cool. The students could grow closer to the faculty through their experience on the field than just being in the classroom.
One of the most memorable moments was the regional MD-DC-VA cross country race my freshman year. It was a hard course and at the very end there was a huge hill that you had to run up in order to finish the race. I was really tired and about to give up on the race when Hannah Ball came up from behind me. She told me to keep going and ran with me all the way up the hill. If she hadn't been there, I would have definitely slowed down and not finished well.
At Rockbridge, I definitely learned patience and that the team always comes first. I tried a lot of sports, but I wasn't ever the best player at any of them. Especially in lacrosse, which I only played for one season, I played only a little because I had no prior experience. I was on the sidelines a good amount of the time, encouraging my teammates on the field. When I first started riding with my college team, I also had no prior experience so I only competed once at the very end of the semester. Because of my experience at Rockbridge, I was content because I knew this was what was best for the team. This semester a few girls dropped out so now I ride at every competition.
I think the best thing overall I have taken away from sports at Rockbridge was its Christ-centered focus. Whenever we played, the team would pray for safety and to give all the glory to God. Now at a secular university I do not pray with a team anymore, but it is such a deeply-engrained habit that now before most of my competition as I am getting on the horse or one the sidelines I remember to pray for my teammates' safety, since riding is a dangerous sport, and for myself that however I perform in the ring it would all be to God's glory and not my own.